Friday, 25 November 2016

TeachMeet 0.3

Cross-blogged with permission from


I love going to these TeachMeets. I always come away being inspired by something and getting excited by little bits of information, or a new tool, or just hearing about what others are doing in their schools. Today was certainly no different - including the awesome food put on by our host school, Villa Maria College.
These are just my notes on today and I have just done a quick summary on each presentation. You can also have a look at the tweets made today using #TMChch.

Aidan Harrison (Middleton Grange School)- Christian Bicultural Learning 

Aidan gave us a quick digital korowai before taking us through his learning as a bilingual teacher. He went through a short Cultural Narrative for Villa Maria College, reminding us all that every school should have one and we should all be aware of this. I thought at this time how lucky we are at Haeata to have had time to explore our Cultural Narrative and how much it underpins all that we will do there.  He talked about Tātaiako - Cultural competencies for teachers of Māori learners and I found this reinforced the learning I have been doing at Haeata over the last few weeks (see other posts on my blog for more info on this). He mentioned about the challenges for staff around not feeling confident with Bicultural learning and he offered support for anyone wanting to know more.

Schira Withers (Our Lady Star of the Sea School) - Facilitating the teaching of Character Strengths using Positive Psychology and enhancing Wellbeing

Schira spoke about promoting wellbeing though Character strengths. There are 5 schools in a cluster on the southeast of Christchurch who are using the VIA Institute Character Strengths to promote wellbeing in their schools for staff and for students. They get everyone to do a survey to start with (on the site) to help them discover what their strengths are. The school focuses on 2 strengths each term (there are 24) for example, Bravery and Persistence and they look at topics such as the Olympics or books on these topics. Their school musical production is based around Creativity and Confidence. This approach works on being comfortable with who you are which I like.
I decided to do this test and it was surprisingly correct for how I see myself so I was pleased to see my top 6 character strengths were Honesty, Kindness, Leadership, Judgement, Fairness and Perspective. 
She also told us about the World Character Day which celebrates these character strengths. This site also has a huge range of resources that can be used to develop character. I had a look at a few of these and was amazed at how many there were and how easy it was to search for one of the 24 character strengths by age and media. What a great resource.

Jenni Williams (Redcliffs School) @nzgirljen - Quick and easy collaborative online tools

Jenni took us through 4 online tools she uses.
AnswerGarden from the TeachMeet
Answer garden - She found out about this at ULearn and I must say it looks great. She asked us "What do you enjoy about being part of TeachMeet?" and we had only 20 characters to answer. A really good way of getting quick brief feedback to get the most popular theme or idea and you can also export to Tagxedo or a wordle, send to Twitter!  The About AnswerGarden page is really useful to describe this in more detail. 
Padlet - This was a reminder for me as I have used Padlet in the past, but one new thing for me was that you can now share it with a QR code. It's really good for collaboration and some of my students have also done presentations with it in the past.
Coggle - This is a simple collaborative mindmap which you can add photos and images to. She got her students (use gmail account to login) to put pictures of themselves and then add information they wanted to share. Jenni used it for students to get to know others and to put in ideas about careers. I do like how it is set out.

Trello - I have seen Trello at a TeachMeet before but this was a good reminder of this project management tool. Jenni uses it for groups of students such as the magazine team or the formal group so they can gather information in one place about what they need to get done. They then have boards for to do, doing and done lists. I want to look into this a bit more and see how it might work for projects at school for myself and ākonga.


Just before the break we were shown nGram which shows how many times words have been used in literature over a period of time. We were challenged to think about how this could be used in a classroom. At the end of the TeachMeet, Matt Nicoll shared his ideas with Pauline Henderson and myself and I got very excited about how you could use this tool to ask the "what if" questions. It also got us thinking about what happened in the past and what effect it had on literature and society. It certainly created a lot of discussion with us at the end of the day. Some of the searches that had interesting results were:
  • forces, energy, speed - interesting to see what happened over the 1920-1940 time period and also the 1960s when space travel changed the scientific thinking (see the image here)
  • AI (Artificial Intelligence) and ethics -showed an increase in books in 1980s - why?We wondered about  the implications of Moore's law in some books and we wondered about cloning on the effect of ethics. One thing was the AI increase in the 1820's - maybe a book on the future, or maybe AI meant something different then!

Duncan Bond, Nadene Brouwer, Richard McBrearty (Burnside High School) @bondteach - Collaboration in a Secondary School Curriculum Area

This school started with single cell classrooms then cut walls so they could cater for approximately 90 students with 3 teachers.
They made it optional for their faculty to be involved. The timetable had to be changed around so that all the classes were on at the same time and they have ended up with 2 trios at yr 9 and 2 trios at yr 10 - about a 3rd of their students are going through this style of learning that has a skills emphasis rather than content focus. They meet once a fortnight to plan next fortnight and their non-contacts are aligned with each other so they have the time to do this.
There have been many positives from this including their continuous discussions around teaching and learning, and also the great relationships between both staff and students. Some of the challenges were around having conversations when the people you work with do something you don't like, the planning time and the noise in a larger environment.

Lee Nanai-Stewart (Catholic Cathedral College) @Nanaistewart - Culturally Responsive Practice

Lee introduced us to the Educultural wheel which was devised by Angus Macfarlane in 2004 which she learnt about in her Post-grad studies at the University of Canterbury. She talked about how to understand the culture of the child, you have to understand your own culture. Lee encouraged us to share our background with our students and get to know our student's background. We need to demonstrate that we care in actions, not just words. The four parts of the wheel go together to create a culture in your school but are not designed to be taken in isolation. There is a blank version to record examples of when/where the concepts have been present in your class, or not present as the case may be.
She gave us some further reading to do:
Sociocultural Realities by Macfarlane, Macfarlane and Webber
Discipline, Democracy and Diversity by Angus H Macfarlane
Article: Creating culturally-safe schools for Māori students - Macfarlane, Glynn, Cavanagh, Bateman

If anyone that attended has other comments to add about what they heard today, please do so in the comments below. These are just my thoughts and what I took from the session, others may have different takeaways from this. 
I can't recommend attending these TeachMeets highly enough. It is an opportunity for teachers to share what they are doing in everyday practice and I always come away with a taonga for my kete. Exciting.

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